Community Garden Planted In Pine Plains

An enthusiastic group of volunteers and supporters—from toddlers to grandparents—gathered at the Pine Plains Town Hall on Friday to plant the Free Families Forward Community Farm to Community Pantry garden.

They were welcomed by Samantha Sloane Cole, founder and director of Free Families Forward, an all-volunteer nonprofit group. Assemblywoman Didi Barrett (D-103rd CD),  spoke briefly, mingled with the crowd, and discussed the garden and its primary goal of supplying fresh, organically grown vegetables to supplement the food staples provided by the Pine Plains Community Food Locker.

Cole explained the Free Families Forward mission of reaching into the community to create free, fun, and rewarding activities for everyone.  She then introduced Elena McEneaney, the farm manager, and Maxine Roberts, a senior at Stissing Mountain High School who has worked with McEneaney on the garden.

Invited by McEneaney to participate in planting the garden’s 9—soon to be 11—raised beds, volunteers poured into the garden and set to work. Some had brought their own trowels; most used tools lent for the day by volunteers. Experienced gardeners guided the novices; parents helped their children; beds were soon filled.

Children dug in with their hands to plant cucumber, lettuce, and summer-squash seedlings, sandbox-style. Keeping an eye on his 22-month-old daughter, Jenna, George Fehling carefully planted the carrot bed—not the easiest of planting tasks. Along with recent graduate Jonathan Bisson, efficient Stissing Mountain students—many of them friends of Roberts—tackled the bush and pole bean beds. McEneaney’s son, Joshua, aged 7, manned the refreshment table.

Two long beds constructed by McEneaney and her brother Aleks will soon hold cherry tomatoes and shallots, planted in a rich organic soil mix contributed by Dave Owen. Highbush blueberry bushes will be set out for yields in future years.

This is an excerpt from an article in this week's issue. For the full story please see the newspaper.